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I Love Chipotle



November 24, 2010 – Comments (41)

I have now been at Fool HQ for over 2 weeks.  I felt it was time for a proper first post, unlike that 3 sentence piece I rushed out on my first day. 

I received a better-than-expected reception to my earlier post, so I thought I'd write another one addressing some comments and giving some random other thoughts.  I think people wanted to know about my background and the Analyst Development Program in particular, if I remember correctly.

Pronunciation of "Babo"

If you're like 100% of people at Fool HQ, you're pronouncing "babo" wrong.  Phonetically, it's pronounced bah-bo.  Bahbo looks downright nasty, so you can see why I write it as babo.  That's also the way I've written it since I was a kid, so I guess it works out.

Why babo? "Babo" means "Fool" in Korean.  In hindsight, I should've been TMFChipotle since I freaking love Chipotle (I even talked about it at my interview with 2 different people), but a complete name change from "bullishbabo" to "TMFChipotle" would've been too drastic.

A Little About Me

I have an electrical engineering degree from Johns Hopkins University.  Right out of school, I was hired at a steel company.  I developed an interest in investing after I had already started my engineering career. 

My first individual stock pick was COH in October 2008 at around $18.40.  Although I don't own it anymore, I still feel a little excitement when I see a Coach store in a mall.  For someone who had never owned any stock before, I was quite confident in my choice.  I now know how naive I was back then, but it served as a valuable starting point.  

I can honestly say that CAPS was instrumental in my development as an investor.  In my 2 years here, I've grown tremendously.  Not knowing anyone in real life to talk to about my ideas, I turned to the CAPS community.  I've spent anywhere from 3 minutes to 10 hours researching various picks.  The experience trying to beat the market has been quite invaluable.  I also learned plenty from comments, pitches, blogs, and what have you.  

Another reason for my rapid development as an investor is my appetite for reading.  One of my favorite quotes from Buffett is to "read everything in sight."  In only 2 years, I've already read The Intelligent Investor twice, along with a fair number of other books.  My "reading list" post (which wasn't that extensive) has been linked a decent amount in the past here on CAPS.  I'll post an updated reading list in the next few months - I have some good additions.  

I can honestly tell you that some nights, I would come home from work, sit down at my computer, and research stocks or read investment-related stuff for 8 hours straight.  I did that at least a few times.  Obviously, I loved this stuff.

I toyed around with the idea of jumping ship for the finance industry several times over the past year or so, but I found a few roadblocks: (1) ridiculously long workweeks of 70 to 80 hours or more, (2) the massive layoffs at financial firms since the collapse of 2007-2009, and (3) some other junk I can't remember at the moment.

On Labor Day weekend, my brother convinced me to jump ship.  I also talked to a friend of his that had tried to break into the industry before and was convinced I could break in.  Before I could start looking seriously at Wall Street firms and at boutique research firms, I (luckily) stumbled onto the job posting site here.  I applied for the Financial Editor/Analyst position and the Analyst Development Program.

I won't bore you with the details on how I prepared for the interview, but I studied my behind off.  I have received 5 interviews in my life, 3 of which turned into job offers.  The times I received offers, I can honestly say it was due to nothing more than ridiculous preparation.  

Analyst Development Program

Before I get into the ADP, I'll tell you a bit about the structure of a newsletter's investment team.  There's the advisor, whose name goes out on all the picks.  Under the advisor, there are analysts.  Obviously, I am an analyst-in-development.  Once I graduate from the program, I believe the idea is that I will be an analyst.

The collection of talent here at Fool HQ is quite impressive.  I am absolutely in the bottom handful in terms of talent at the moment.  On my services, Alpha and Big Short, I work for two advisors who have managed money at hedge funds with great success.  The analyst for these services, Matt Argersinger (TMFMattyA), is also quite good and I look forward to learning from him and the advisors.  

Last week (or was it two weeks ago), I went to a monthly pitch meeting by the 4 ADP guys who've only been here 9 months and they're already doing pretty impressive stock pitches.  The one to thank for the investor development is Buck Hartzell (TMFBuck).  If what I've heard from others is correct, I have a ton of readings and other goodies in store as I go through the ADP stuff.

I think I can definitely step up my game and become a strong analyst, but my work is obviously cut out for me.  There are a lot of smart people here and they all have more experience. I look forward to catching up as fast as possible.

Working at The Motley Fool

This place is awesome.  My ADP counterpart Joe Tenebruso (TMFGuardian) and I still talk about it and shake our heads.  We both still can't believe we're here.  Joe's been a Stock Advisor subscriber for a long time and he loves The Fool.  I'm a bit different in that I spent all of my time at CAPS, but I knew I wanted to work here after looking around at the pictures and video special on the website.  I could tell just from the website features that this place had a special culture. 

After spending a few weeks here, I can tell you it's everything I expected and more.  I've met many people who tell me the "I can't believe I work here" feeling doesn't go away, even after years of working at The Fool.  I have so many things I want to do, but not enough time.  I want to write articles, learn how to use the research tools provided, make some decent financial models, research every pick in my two services, start pitching my own ideas eventually, and more.  Almost every day, I look at the clock and I get the "holy crap, it's already 5 PM" shock.  I don't think I'll ever be watching the clock here.

Fool HQ vs. External Fools

On the day I interviewed, I had the chance to see if I could meet Fools I'd only known by their TMF names on CAPS.  I was able to meet TMFJake and TMFCHarris.  I did find out, however, that a lot of people with TMF in their names aren't necessarily at Fool HQ.  I believe that includes some beloved CAPS names such as TMFSinchiruna, TMFDeej, and now TMFUltraLong.  

As I get more involved with my services on the boards, I know I'll get to know more of these names. TMFMurph sticks out in my mind as a very helpful poster on Alpha and Big Short. 


I'm just curious: how many of you here on CAPS subscribe to a service? I remember describing to someone here at Fool HQ that my impression was that CAPS members were mostly DIY investors with no newsletter subscriptions (like myself).  Am I right? Am I wrong?

That's it for my brain dump.  I hope that covers the initial curiosity about the new position, my thought process, and all that junk.  

Fool on,


41 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On November 24, 2010 at 12:37 AM, Momentum21 (98.04) wrote:

Finding a job that fully engages you is a true blessing. Congrats again and I will look forward to reading your work...

I am a Stock Advisor subscriber although I was only able to buy AAPL when it dipped into the 90's. I sold at 120 thinking I was a genius! : )

Should have bought more ADBE today but was distracted by Irish Banks.  

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#2) On November 24, 2010 at 12:46 AM, BillyTG (29.45) wrote:

Great recap!

I've subscribed to HiddenGems since around the time it was started IIRC, but haven't read one of the monthly reports in, I don't know, maybe a year... I really should see what the deal is on cancelling, but I figured I was way past the grace period, and would just let it expire without renewal.

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#3) On November 24, 2010 at 12:59 AM, XMFRosetint (41.29) wrote:

I currently have Stock Advisor and Hidden Gems, but am cancelling Stock Advisor. I enjoy the services and they were really helpful for learning when I was getting started, but I can honestly say that I've never purchased a stock based on their recommendations. They really, really don't fit my investing style which concentrates a large percentage of my capital on a few equities that I have very high conviction in. Most people think I am not diversified near enough, but I have found that is far better to know a lot about a few specific companies than to know a little bit about a lot of companies. I always try to expand the number of companies on my radar, of course, and so far my technique has not performed too poorly for me given that I have had two pretty big multibaggers (GGP, SSN) in my portfolio and expect to continue to get more, given that I only invest in ideas I think will have substantial (50%+) returns with only modest downside risk.

I am only twenty at this time, so I still have plenty of time to continue to grow my capital. Believe it or not, though, I wouldn't bother investing if I did not enjoy it. It is fun for me to dig deep into a company's financials and learn a lot about it, and determine how much of its value its stock price is giving the company credit for. If I can do that, and have fun doing it, how much money I make doing so is just a way of keeping score. If it's not fun, why bother?

I'd like to congratulate you on making it into the Analyst Development Program - I applied as well, but was not given an interview or any correspondence other than a rejection letter, for that matter. With people of your caliber applying, I can certainly see why. Maybe one day we'll see you leading one of the Fool's newsletters? ;)

Best wishes,


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#4) On November 24, 2010 at 1:06 AM, Option1307 (30.53) wrote:

Best of luck!

btw I'm not a subscriber but love Caps/Fool:)

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#5) On November 24, 2010 at 7:50 AM, rd80 (95.80) wrote:

I don't have any subscriptions.  I did have a trial with MF Pro a while back and liked it a lot, just couldn't justify the subscription price when looked at as a management fee for the chunk of money I would have used to follow the plan.

CAPS junky and occaisional Fool freelance contributor.


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#6) On November 24, 2010 at 9:04 AM, Gemini846 (34.43) wrote:

Welcome TMFChipotle. I hope you like the food not the stock.

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#7) On November 24, 2010 at 1:37 PM, rfaramir (28.70) wrote:

Congrats, Babo! Hope this is a blessing to your life.

I subscribe to HG. Oh, I have a question: Is it wrong to mention in a CAPS pick that something is an HG pick? (Or any subscription)

It seems unfair to other paying members to tell the world what our paid service is picking, but unfair to CAPS not to tell people why we like a stock. If I don't disclose that it is an HG pick, but just echo the HG data points that convinced me, I'm afraid of writers choosing my pitch as support for HG's investing thesis, which is totally circularly bogus! It's happened.

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#8) On November 24, 2010 at 2:20 PM, EnigmaDude (51.98) wrote:

Congrats Babo!  Sounds like you have made good choices throughout your life.  I joined CAPS in 2007 after receiving what was for me a large (and totally unexpected) inheritance!  I decided that I did not want to trust my new fortune to a financial advisor who may not have my best interests at heart.

Although I have never subscribed to a subscription service I do appreciate the need for MF to run a business.  If I had more disposable income (the bulk of my inheritance is gone now) I would definitely consider it, but I seem to be doing OK with the help of CAPS.

I love Chipotle burritos too, but not so sure about the stock. I look forward to reading whatever you have to say!

Happy Thanksgiving!


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#9) On November 24, 2010 at 5:42 PM, cobradon (96.26) wrote:

Kudos BABO...nothing better than getting paid to do something you would be doing anyway.. life is good!

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#10) On November 24, 2010 at 10:24 PM, HarryCaraysGhost (61.52) wrote:

Congrats, TMFBAH-BO : ) It's cool to learn a bit more about you, I 've always been fascinated by your investment style. Looking forward to reading your future posts.

I'm just curious: how many of you here on CAPS subscribe to a service?

Nah, I'm just a poor boy and can't afford a subscription. So I was happy to see the Fool move to a  more ad related marketing campaign.

I can't see the Fool chastising me for being fiscally responsible.


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#11) On November 25, 2010 at 1:54 AM, zCreator (94.13) wrote:

Congrats again Babo!

And I don't pay for any subsciptions at all. I just buy books and read a lot about investing mostly.

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#12) On November 25, 2010 at 3:08 AM, TMFBabo (100.00) wrote:

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! True to my blog title, I had Chipotle earlier tonight and it was delicious.

@Momentum21: Thanks.  The Irish banks are indeed distracting, but I think too much of my portfolio is of the stomach-churning variety and I'm going to take a pass.

@BillyTG: Thanks.  Did you find Hidden Gems helpful? What did you or didn't you like? This isn't part of my job assignment - I'm just curious, since you're saying you don't read anymore.

@HallShadow: Thanks.  The response to the ADP posting was pretty substantial, from what I hear.  I've met many former ADPers and they're all pretty knowledgeable.  As far as leading a newsletter, that's so far out that I'm not even thinking about it. 

I don't need to be a newsletter advisor to have an impact - the Alpha advisor, Matt Richey, said he'd consider ideas if I had any.  I told him I probably wouldn't pitch anything just yet, but I hope to contribute a successful recommendation to Alpha within the next year or so.  I suspect, however, that he has enough ideas that it'll be tough to crack the list.  

I have no doubt you'll find more multi-baggers, but I'm having a hard time finding potential huge rewards without some meaningful downside these days.  That's fine as long as I like the reward-to-risk, I guess.

If you're 20, are you in college? Working? Both?

@Option1307: Thanks.  I love CAPS and the Fool too.

@rd80: I've seen your articles - good stuff.  I hope to start writing soon - I know I definitely want to be writing a good amount within a year or so. 

Is there any way you'll be adding TMF to your name like UL finally did? Unfortunately, I can't think of a nice way to incorporate your current username into a TMF name.

@Gemini846: TMFChipotle...that sounds weird.  Yes, the food and not the stock. I actually haven't considered the stock seriously before, but it didn't pass my initial financial statement once-over at some point in the past.

@rfaramir: Thanks.  I think you're approaching it correctly.  It's probably okay to say why you like a stock (without copying verbatim), as long as you don't mention specifically it's a HG pick.  That's an interesting situation you throw out there.  By writers, do you mean indivdiual article writers or the newsletter team?

@EnigmaDude: Thanks.  I've made some bad decisions I care not to share, but I've learned from every bad decision as I don't like getting burned twice by the same problem.  

I'll be sure to get back to regular blogging at some point (although at times it was only once a month).  

@cobradon: Agreed.  That thought is what pushed me over the edge for good.

@HarryCarysGhost: Thanks.  I did wonder if the post was too personal, but I read it over (after posting) and didn't think too much of it.  I hope to improve my investment analysis and post some of those pieces once in a while in the future.  I'll probably need a while to get started, though.  

@zCreator: Thanks.  That's pretty much what I did.  

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#13) On November 25, 2010 at 9:08 AM, BillyTG (29.45) wrote:

Yes, I used to think HG was the greatest thing ever.  One issue I have with newsletters, to include HG, is seeing the original brains (like Bill Mann and Tom G) walk away.  I think this is kind of a generational thing where Gen X and definitely younger generations are increasingly distrustful of organizations and increasingly loyal to people they believe in...when the trusted bosses or advisors leave the scene, the younger people leave also, as they have no loyalty to the organization (be it HG, TMF, a big corporation, or even the USA). 

In any case, the main reason I don't read HG is because I have this underlying belief that the entire financial system is corrupt beyond repair and a trainwreck waiting to happen.  And it seems to me that so many expert stockpickers can analyze the hell out of trees, but are totally unable to see the forest fire moving their way. TMF doesn't have any newsletter (to my knowledge?) that offers a macro look at these problems and how to invest smartly to avoid the threats.  Instead, we get these soda-straw-view diluted newsletters that try to zero in on particular sectors.

When I hear brilliant guys like Michael Burry and Jim Rogers, who see worldwide macro trends, it's tough for me to accept a stock pitch that doesn't demonstrate the slightest understanding of those big trends.

The bottom line for me is that there are too few people I'm willing to trust with my money these days, and there are too few newsletters (or people) that are broad enough to see the big trends, precise enough to see the best ideas within those big trends, and then patient enough to wait for grand slam pitches.  I'll take anonymous internet dudes' opinions and my own modest investing skills every time now.

PS Aren't JHU people big on using THE to precede JHU, as in "I went to the Johns Hopkins University"? 

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#14) On November 25, 2010 at 11:31 AM, TMFBabo (100.00) wrote:

I can't speak for advisors I've only known for a few weeks, but I'm inclined to say it's often stockpicking first, macro second.  I've seen some picks that said "here's our view for the sector and here's how we're playing it" or "the economy's doing this and we'd like to play it by doing this" but I'm thinking you'd want something more broad. 

What are your current view of worldwide trends? I'm just curious. I do see inflation as a major theme in your blogs, but I'm sure there are more (like the banking system, as you mentioned). 

I trust you are vetting the anonymous Internet dudes' opinions and making sure they're sound.  I've seen some good random stuff on the Internet, but I've also seen an enormous amount of junk written by morons.  If you want good anonymous dudes, I'd go with solid blogs.  

I usually say I went to "Hopkins" or "Johns Hopkins" - I think it's too long to include everything.  Including "the" (which is correct) or "university" makes it sound unwieldy to me.  Most of my friends say "Hopkins" as well.  I did think about putting "the" in front in my blog post, but I don't like putting it.    

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#15) On November 26, 2010 at 2:50 AM, XMFRosetint (41.29) wrote:


I am currently looking for a job, yes, but I am not in college. I decided the opportunity cost was way too high at this point in my life to justify the expense, given my limited amount of capital. It's pretty hard to justify when you're finding a bunch of multi-baggers and companies that will likely become multi-baggers. At some point I may decide to go back, but presently I see too many opportunities for it to be +EV.

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#16) On November 26, 2010 at 9:53 AM, rd80 (95.80) wrote:

@TMFBabo, #12

Thanks for the kind words. 

I've thought about trying to take the step from freelancing to Fool employee, but would like to get my kids out on their own before making a run at career number three.  

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#17) On November 26, 2010 at 11:38 AM, TMFBabo (100.00) wrote:

@HallShadow: College is necessary for certain career tracks and worthless for others.  If you want to be an engineer, lawyer, doctor, psychiatrist, educator, etc., then you obviously want to get your bachelor's and probably more (except the engineer).  

I've also seen many people who went to college for the sake of it and then graduate with a mound of debt and are no further along on their career paths. I do also believe that the Associate's degree is the best bang-for-your-buck in certain situations.

Breaking into finance is something that might be helped by a degree (depending on your major). I was convinced by others that an electrical engineer in steel (myself) could potentially look more attractive than someone with a BS in finance, as long as I knew my way around investing. The argument was that I would have a strong analytical/quantitative background, insight into the steel industry, yet still be able to do every calculation and bit of research that a finance major could. 

I've met someone who would be a computer science and economics double major in order to break into finance, if he could do it over again. That might be an interesting combination with all the quantitative modeling done these days. 

If you've found good pay, it might not make sense to go back to school. I apologize for most of my argument being in support of going to college. That's what I've been taught since I was a kid and for my initial aspirations (electrical engineering), it made more sense. There are plenty of self-made millionaires (and billionaires) that would disagree, of course.  

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#18) On November 26, 2010 at 2:33 PM, XMFRosetint (41.29) wrote:

Hey Babo,

 You have no reason to apologize.

College is definitely worth the time and money for most people, on a NPV basis. When you jack up the discount rate, though, every (what I think is) realistic model that I've done to date has come up with a substantial negative number. As I mentioned before, I may decide to go to college in the future but it is contingent on having capital and not having a good place to put it. It is not that I think a college education is a bad idea or that I do not want to put in the effort required to receive a degree, it is that it doesn't currently make economic sense for me to go. The opportunity cost is just way too high for me right now.

The issue is interrupting my compounding machine when it is still cranking out substantial excess returns annually. I think most investors understand that that is not desirable unless absolutely necessary.

 Best wishes,


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#19) On November 26, 2010 at 4:05 PM, MKArch (99.82) wrote:

I was a long time H.G. subscriber but had to let my subscription lapse this year. I did well enough in CAPS to earn a free R.B. subscription though. I don't know what the breakdown in CAPS is as far as newsletter subs vs. non subs but I can tell you I noticed H.G. recommendations tend to get five stars and keep them even when they sometimes turn up as busts. FMD is now down to 4 stars but is a good example. This is not a criticism of the pick or the service just an observation that subs are active in CAPS.

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#20) On November 27, 2010 at 12:11 PM, ikkyu2 (98.07) wrote:

It's neat to learn something about you.

Like Russ, I don't find the newsletter fees would justify themselves for my portfolio size.  I do OK on my own - my best stock picks over the last 5 years have all had a healthy dose of CAPS wisdom driving them. 

Have you taken a whack at "Security Analysis" yet?  There are some who'd say it's out of date but I don't find it so. 

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#21) On November 27, 2010 at 12:55 PM, TMFBabo (100.00) wrote:

@HallShadow: I'm glad you have a steady flow of superior ideas. I have a couple potential multi-bagger ideas myself, but they seem to come with some healthy risks attached these days. I plan to go on a research binge once I get settled in, so that will hopefully change.  

@MKArch: I guess more CAPS members are subscribers than I originally thought.  What you say is absolutely correct - a newsletter pick is likely to be picked more often. I've also mentioned the "follow the leader" effect before, where someone like TMFUltraLong picks something and 20+ people follow him. I have it to a lesser extent, but that guy has it a lot more.

@ikkyu2: I agree that it doesn't make sense for a lot of people. Still, I think it starts to make sense for people who have mid to high 5 figure accounts - not just 6 figure accounts. I think the best thing about the newsletters is actually the premium boards, where the advisor, analysts, and additional Fools roam around and answer questions on a more personal level. There are some who would benefit greatly from it and others that don't need it, of course.

Although I'm not with that service, I made a post on the Inside Value boards on one of the stocks and I'm tracking it to see if anyone responds and such (just like I do with blog posts). I look forward to spending more time on the boards in the future - it's weird because I feel so new over there even though I've built some nice success here on CAPS.

I've read Security Analysis once, early in my investing journey. I read it close to bedtime and I'm sorry to say it put me to sleep pretty often. It's an excellent book and has almost everything you need to know, but it's so dense and written so "old school" that you should read it when you're wide awake and ready to absorb all that knowledge. 

I plan to read Intelligent Investor a third time within the next year, so I can keep my emotions in check while the market fluctuates and the media spews nonsense all around. Sometime later on, I'll attempt a do-over of Security Analysis and try to pick up a lot of what I missed the first time.

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#22) On November 27, 2010 at 4:01 PM, paradigms (38.32) wrote:

Hey TMFBabo,

Congrats on joining The Fool and on your continued CAPS success.  I’m also a diehard fan of Chipotle – I once ate there seven days in a row and usually eat there two or more times per week – so between our regular trips to Chipotle, maybe it’s no wonder that CMG has been experiencing explosive growth the past year and a half or so.

Ben Graham's The Intelligent Investor is a great book; next in my queue is Philip Fisher’s Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits.  Warren Buffet has gone on record saying that he’s “85% Graham and 15% Fisher,” so I’m interested to read more about Fisher’s investment philosophy.  Has anyone read Fisher’s Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, and if so, how’d they like it?

The Fool sounds like a downright awesome place to work.  Best wishes for continued success.

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#23) On November 27, 2010 at 4:08 PM, XMFRosetint (41.29) wrote:

Hey Babo,

 Have you taken a gander at It is one potential multibagger, but with all bankrupt companies there is pretty substantial risk there. Check out the plans of reorganization though; all three leave the equity with some value so the downside is pretty limited. There's a lot of interesting stuff in them - management's plan and the Charlestown plan want to buy back stock at $0.25 and $0.35 per share respectively, and Charlestown will force an investor to sell at least some of his shares if at least 55% of the shares don't tender. I don't expect this one to go gangbusters like GGP did, but if they can sell off some of their real estate - particularly the undeveloped real estate - and use it to pay down debt, the company could be very appealing at today's levels given its substantial discount to book value.

As I said, there is a good amount of risk with this one but I thought you'd be interested regardless. I recently downloaded their October Monthly Operating Report from PACER, if you want it. If you are interested in doing more research about the company and decide to download it yourself, it will run you about $6.

This type of security doesn't seem to fit your style, but I will add some links to relevant information in case you are interested in learning more.

Best wishes,

Scott - BK docs - 10-K


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#24) On November 27, 2010 at 4:12 PM, XMFRosetint (41.29) wrote:

Regarding forcing an investor to sell, I realized I should have noted that I was using it generically. It will not force one specific investor to sell, but will do so on a pro rated basis for all non-cash election holders.

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#25) On November 27, 2010 at 4:49 PM, MKArch (99.82) wrote:


 I couldn't re-up my H.G. subscription for personal reasons this year but I can honestly say I valued the service more for the learning experience on the message boards than the actual recommendations. I'm sure you are getting a sense of that now and you have it even better being trained at the Fool and being paid to do so to boot! Congrats and I hope to see you on the message boards.


 ps: Love your avatar, I'm from the South Jersey area and I am a life long Phillies Phan along with all the other local teams.

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#26) On November 28, 2010 at 1:51 AM, TMFBabo (100.00) wrote:

@paradigms: Thanks. You have an impressive appetite for Chipotle. I have a selfish desire myself for Chipotle to become saturated in the US (yet still make a healthy profit at every store) so I can get it anywhere, anytime. I say that even though I don't own the stock - I just love the food.

I've actually read that book. Phil Fisher was a growth stock investor who had a laundry list of things to look for in companies to make sure they were wonderful companies. I believe if you follow the entire list (it will take forever), you will end up with amazing companies in your portfolio.  I wonder if this is where Buffett went from cigar butts to wonderful companies? I've heard other sides say it was when he met Munger - I have to believe it was a combination of both.

Yeah, the Fool is a special place.  It's fairly large (200+ is more than I though it'd be), but I often hear the word "entrepreneurial" when others describe the culture to me. Whatever it is, it's a fun company where everyone actually works hard and accomplishes a lot too.  

@HallShadow: I might not get to it right away, but it'd be dumb to turn down an idea that could be a multi-bagger. I've actually recently become interested in special situations, so I'll take a look when I can.

I remember from Buffett's partnership letters that he had 3 types of investments: undervalued securities (called generals), arbitrage plays, and control situations.  I'm not completely comfortable with arbitrage or control situations just yet, but special situations offer a way to invest in undervalued companies that may move at a different pace and with low correlation to the general market, which is quite attractive.

@MKArch: Agreed, I've recently begun to see that the best thing about these subscriptions is actually the learning that goes on from the boards.  I look forward to contributing my fair share to the members' experience. I'll probably start on the premium boards first, but I expect to venture out to the other boards later on.  

Yep, I'm quite proud of the avatar. As soon as I found out I could choose my own, I knew what I wanted.

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#27) On November 28, 2010 at 6:11 AM, XMFRosetint (41.29) wrote:

Hey Babo,

I know what you mean - I recall reading one of the partnership letters or, at least, a description of one on a value investing blog somewhere. Do you happen to know where I might find more of them? I have read the Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America which is a phenomenal read, but unfortunately only covers the letters to the shareholders of Berkshire.

I have been interested in special situations since I first read about them in Seth Klarman's Margin of Safety and have invested in some. They have been my best investments to date, being GGP during bankruptcy reorganization and SSN when it was trading at below its pro forma net cash position preceding Chesapeake's acquisition of a substantial amount of its leases targeting the Niobrara formation in Goshen County. I still hold a substantial amount (I've actually increased my position) in SSN, but I took my profits in GGP and went on a trip to Europe with them because I was going through a rather tough time in my life and needed to "get away," so to speak. I do not regret it, but in hindsight I really should not have interrupted the compounding machine the way I did. The cost ended up being something approximating thirty thousand dollars in foregone profits, but at least I have learned from it.

Let me know if/when you want the MoR for MMPI - I will be happy to e-mail it to you. Alternatively, you can obtain it yourself through PACER though it will cost you about $6. It is not a large fee, and the cost of PACER for use in researching the securities of bankrupt companies is definitely worth it at $0.08 per page (capped at 30 pages or $2.40 per document, but due to document size limitations it often ends up being much more than that). I should note that if your total fees are less than $10 in a given quarter, they are waived.

Best wishes,


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#28) On November 28, 2010 at 3:14 PM, TMFBabo (100.00) wrote:

Here's the site I used to download the PDFs of the partnership letters:

AAOI's site had it at one point, but they seem to have been deleted. I still suggest checking out the site:

They way they use "we" and "our" all the time, I'd say Above Average Odds seems to be run by more than 1 person. AAOI quickly became one of my CAPS favorites as well, since some of the analysis is also posted on CAPS.

AAOI seems to love special situations. You might want to check out the site and the blogroll - there are some sites that track arbitrage announcements, other special situation investors, and more.  I've only spent a few additional hours looking through the other blogs on the blogroll, which really isn't enough. 

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#29) On November 28, 2010 at 4:14 PM, XMFRosetint (41.29) wrote:

Hey Babo,

 Thanks! I really appreciate it.

I can personally recommend both Greenbackd and Cheap Stocks from their blogroll as I've gone through the archives of both, but Cheap Stocks is not updated anywhere near the amount it used to be. Greenbackd often posts about liquidations or shareholders buying a substantial interest in companies trading below their NCAV to try to force management to liquidate rather than continue to destroy value for shareholders. Cheap Stocks is a bit more traditional, usually only posting about nearly unfollowed companies and companies trading below their NCAV, but the guy who writes it - Jon Heller - posts some really good information there on occasion.

I will read the partnership letters. I think Above Average Odds is where I read the one that I did, or at least a description of it. I may be wrong - there's quite a large online value investing community that seems to be very interconnected.

Best wishes,


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#30) On November 28, 2010 at 5:19 PM, TMFBabo (100.00) wrote:

I'd venture to say there are plenty of people who know a bargain when they see one. Much of the battle is being able to find new ideas. One of the best things to do is to seek out like-minded people, of course. 

I think you're right about the interconnected online value investing community. I saw much of the same for personal finance blogs as well. I'd like to one day go through every blog listed on AAOI's blogroll, go through all of their blogrolls, and find every site that suits my tastes. It would really help my flow of ideas, since screening only gets me so far.

So much to do, only so many hours in a day. 

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#31) On November 28, 2010 at 10:11 PM, XMFRosetint (41.29) wrote:

Hey Babo,

That's certainly true. I think the internet is a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to value investing. On one hand, the dissemination of information is easier now than any other time in history. On the other hand . . . the dissemination of information is easier now than any other times in history. I think that's probably why there are not near as many companies trading at below their NCAV around now than there were back in Graham's day. I often wonder, though, if I would have even learned about Graham if not for the internet. It's an interesting thought.

If you are interested in relatively low-risk potential multi-baggers, you may want to check out the recent Hartleys report on SSN, a company I've been covering here for several months but have not updated much lately due to a lack of any big news. The 3d seismic acquisition has started, so perhaps I should do a write-up about that. I have put it on Rapid Share, if you are interested in learning more about the company - it goes into more detail than my blog does. You seem pretty busy, so if you decide to read it you can just wait until you go on your research binge if you want to.

Fair warning, RapidShare always pops up as a "bad site" to my internet security software. I personally have never found any problems with it, but you may want to go ahead and research it a bit if you've never used it before.

Best wishes,


Disclosure: Very long SSN

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#32) On November 29, 2010 at 1:12 PM, clayman14 (< 20) wrote:

Interesting! Look forward to hearing more.  I subscribe to Stock Advisor and did a trial period with Global Gains (but didn't like it and cancelled).

 As for Stock Advisor I can say it has been totally worth.  I've picked three of their recommendations NOV, ATW, and TIE.  Their performance over the last year plus has more then paid for itself and ensured another years subscription. 

 However, I also agree with BillyTG, too.  I invest from a macro standpoint first, from their down to sectors, and eventually to individual stocks.   Rarely do I invest in just the company without a macro view behind it (one exception being SAM which my wife bought stock for me for our first "paper" wedding aniversary 3 years ago because I love the beer so much). 

I'd love to see an advisor newsletter along that line (I thought that might be Global Gains but it wasn't).   However, I can also appreciate the difficulty in doing that as you have to take stances on what you believe is correct macro directions such as government spending, debt, monetary policy, etc.  I think you'd have pretty contentious debate there.  But the two advisor system they run would be interesting as the could provide two very different ideological individuals to compete against each other.  Although, that might not be the funnest job as your constantly debating ideological things.  Anyways, look forward to reading your articles and posts!  

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#33) On November 30, 2010 at 3:43 PM, rfaramir (28.70) wrote:

I have been quoted at least twice by Motley Fool article writers, once each on Denbury and Akamai. While it was cool to see my CAPS handle in print, it felt weird that they were quoting me to support the stock when I had gotten nearly all my support for it from their articles.

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#34) On December 01, 2010 at 12:19 AM, Mary953 (84.46) wrote:

Greetings again,

I enjoyed learning a bit more of your background.  I subscribed to Hidden Gems for a time but found that it was just too frustrating to find good investment opportunities without the money to invest.  Later, I returned to Hidden Gems with the ability to choose a few stocks for investing.  I have been fortunate in the choices from HG and still have those stocks for the most part.

Currently, I have a subscription to Stock Advisor.  I am trying to create a portfolio that is based more on reliable, lower risk, long term stocks that I will be able to take with me into retirement.  SA seems to be the best newsletter for that purpose and I love the dividend yields of some of the recommendations.  Definite fire sale prices!

Two years ago (actually at around Thanksgiving), I decided it was time to learn a bit about the stock market and all things financial.  My discovery of CAPS and the fantastic people here date from that decision.   There is nothing quite as delightful as getting up each day knowing that you have something that you love waiting for you.  I am glad that you have settled here.

Mary  :)

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#35) On December 01, 2010 at 3:23 AM, JakilaTheHun (99.92) wrote:


You have succeeded where I failed.:)  Congratulations!


I actually interviewed for an Editor position at TMF HQ in late '08.  I got the interview, but not the job.   I wasn't quite as CAPS-famous then.  That was when my CAPS rating first started rapidly climbing upwards, but I was still a newbie amongst the top ranking Fools at the time.  Not sure if things would've been different if I had interviewed 6 months later, when I was much more well-known.  


How did you go in for the interview?  Did you wear a full suit?  The people at TMF I talked gave the impression that it wasn't necessary to come in as "business formal" for the interview, but at the time, I worked a job where I had to wear a suit and tie anyway, so that was my dress for the day already.  

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#36) On December 01, 2010 at 1:34 PM, TMFBabo (100.00) wrote:

@clayman14: Thanks.  I'm glad to see Stock Advisor is working out for you - it's certainly the most popular service.  On the macro, I guess the best I can suggest is to use the picks as a guide - you don't have to buy them all.  My impression is there are times the advisor will include macro reasons along with the other analysis for the pick (again, I know it's not exactly what you or BillyTG want).

@rfaramir: Do you have article links? I'm curious to see if it's one of those "here's what CAPS members are saying about these stocks" articles or something else.  I haven't written for yet, but it'd serve as an important lesson for me.

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#37) On December 01, 2010 at 2:01 PM, TMFBabo (100.00) wrote:


I know what you mean about having ideas and no money. 

I'd say the newsletter with the most dividend stocks is Income Investor, not Stock Advisor.  It too has a pretty good assortment of stocks for retirement and such.  Inside Value has a good number of dividend stocks in it, too.  If you love Stock Advisor, then stick with it, by all means. 

I'm quite thankful for the CAPS community as well.  By trying to get better at CAPS, I ended up receiving an entire investing education and "sorta" getting to know some of the people here as well. 

I decided in the past year that "retiring as early as possible" isn't necessarily the best goal.  I decided I'd rather find something I loved doing so that I never wanted to retire.  I'm hoping I've found that path.

I'd save a nest egg anyway, of course. 

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#38) On December 01, 2010 at 2:02 PM, TMFBabo (100.00) wrote:


I can honestly tell you I might not have gotten it had I interviewed even 3 months earlier - I made some nice strides in my development as an investor over the Summer.

I almost went in a full suit, but I thought I'd be way overdressed.  I normally feel the suit is standard for an interview and that it's safer to overdress, but I didn't want to come off as overdressed specifically at The Fool - I went in slacks and a white dress shirt (no tie). 

I saw from some video pieces that at least one person had shorts and sandals on.  That's what did it for me.

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#39) On December 01, 2010 at 9:15 PM, HarryCaraysGhost (61.52) wrote:

Was looking over the top ten caps players.

Here's hoping NTMF interviews.

I just want to see the nameTMFNTMF... :)

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#40) On December 03, 2010 at 1:39 PM, rfaramir (28.70) wrote:

Babo, yes I found the articles, with some digging. I don't remember what I was reading when I made the pitches, though. I continued digging to find Fool articles on the companies just before my pitches, but they didn't look like my pitches :-( It may have been that other Fool articles piqued my curiosity, then I went out and got facts elsewhere, in which case, it wouldn't be as circular as it felt to quote me.

Denbury: 5-Star Stocks Poised to Pop: Denbury Resources

Akamai: Adding Up Akamai

Now I try hard to give credit where due in my pitches. "Following UltraLong" or BullishBabo or silverminer can be found among my pitches when I don't give in depth reasoning. It's when I do give facts but they came from Fool sources that I get nervous.

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#41) On February 23, 2011 at 6:06 PM, XMFShirKi (49.79) wrote:

Hey BillyTG and all,

Quick comments from a friendly Fool (I'm the MDP Home Fool, so sitting in San Diego, not FoolHQ).  First off, Billy, if you're waiting for your subscription to expire you'll be waiting for a long time. The subscription is usually set on auto-renewal unless you purposefully set it otherwise. So if you really intend to cancel, you can do so at any time and get a pro-rated refund on the portion you did not use yet.

That said, you might be interested in MFPro or MFAlpha: both of them are focused on more absolute gains, and take macro factors more into account than most MF portfolios and newsletters. For example, some of Pro's first trades a few years back were a hedge on the Yen and a Silver fund/ETF. Alpha's doing gold now. Pro has done some sector plays. Even so, these end up often being choosing a particular stock rather than an entire sector - thus doubling up your risk/reward not just on the sector but also on the best-of-breed within the sector.

I hope that makes sense.And I hope that the fact I'm suggesting how to cancel lends credibility to being bullish on TMF. ;-)

 Best wishes,


MDP Home Fool - a community member like you

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